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August 7, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: It was just JoJo’s time to go — really!

TERRE HAUTE — It has been years, but I don’t think I’ve been able to fully convince my Best Friend that he did not kill Mom’s canary.

My BF and I had reached a point where it seemed like a good idea to meet parents, so we motored to Southeast Missouri so he could see exactly what kind of kooks he was about to make a part of his family. Dinner went well and conversation proceeded at a friendly pace. Eventually my BF was ushered into the guest room and all grew quiet.

The next morning, he was roused by the aroma of hickory-smoked bacon and he wandered into the dining room where JoJo reigned in his cage. I explained that JoJo was a fighter and that if one stuck a little finger through the bars of his cage, JoJo would shuffle over on his perch and start pecking at it.

So, testing it as a theory, my BF stuck his little finger into the cage and JoJo started his sideways shuffle only to spin around the perch and fall dead on the floor of the cage — his little feet stuck rigidly skyward. Needless to say, my BF was stunned. “How can I ever explain this to your mother?” he wailed.

I explained that JoJo was ancient and could have gone at any time. Mom hastened to add to my assurances that it was just JoJo’s time and it had nothing to do with a strange finger invading his space.

I have no idea of the life expectancy of a canary, but we figure that JoJo must have been at least 10 years old and that it had been years since he raised his beak in song. He had been a gift to Mom from Miss Heyford, an elderly woman who lived up the street from us in Yorkville. She suffered from the misapprehension that Mom was desolate when Mr. Watson died, so JoJo was her idea of repayment for the insulin shots Mom helped her with.

I must have been about 15 when JoJo came to live with us, and I was about halfway through my 20s when he turned up his claws and called it the end of the road. He might have made it into the Guinness Book of World Records if only he had hung on. Alas!

Actually, Mom had had more than enough of canaries starting with Cinnamon Pete who was a birthday gift from Dad. Pete lived a pleasant life with plenty of seeds, a bathtub which clipped to the door of his cage with a clean strip of newspaper and a sprinkle of gravel daily. When he passed to his reward, I received Mr. Watson as a Christmas gift. Maybe it was Dad, the gift giver, who missed the singing of a bird in the morning. JoJo was third in the line of family canaries and Mom had never said she wanted one.

So, I thought I’d try one more time, and publically, to say, “My dear, JoJo led the good life, but it was his time to go. It wasn’t your fault. Get over it!”

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